We're doing something a liiiiiitle bit crazy as a family this week. My husband has off from work because he's a teacher and it's Spring Break. So we decided to to...
...Move out of our house...
...and into our garage...
...for a week.
Yep. Our garage. Which is actually a pretty gross version of a garage.
Last night we moved our queen sized bed into the garage. This morning, we officially started off our 'Garage Project': calling our garage our home for the week, all four of us (2 adults and 2 kids) sleeping in the queen sized bed together, cooking outside on a fire, drinking/using water from our outdoor spigot, constricting our food needs to $1.50 a day per person or less, walking everywhere we need to go, and using an outdoor Porta-Potty.
The way this crazy idea all started was when my husband found out about this organization called 'Live Below the Line' that encourages people to live 'under the poverty line' for a week: doing what 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty do everyday of spending less than $1.50 a day on food. Now, Caleb grew up in South America and then, in college, he spent some time living with extremely poor families in Central America. So when he heard about the buck-fifty a day challenge, he got this DREAM to go a little (or ALOT) further and do this whole 'Garage Project.' To live as close as we can (and as is reasonable) to what people living in extreme poverty would experience.
So, the dream is coming to life. We're going for it. And today was the first day.
So here's Caleb setting up our bed in the garage last night:
And here's our first attempt at cooking rice and beans over a fire. We went to Shoprite the day before and did the math to figure out how much white rice and dried beans we could purchase for our family.
Here's some things that have hit me so far:
- I can't believe how luxurious our kitchen already seems to me. Our plan is to eat rice and beans everyday, every meal. Caleb is going to walk around our neighborhood and 'look for a job' that someone might pay him to do. If he gets some extra cash, we'll use it on some extras in the food department. So as I imagine our pantry closet stocked full of snacks and candy and staples, and as I picture all the choices I normally offer myself and my family, it's stunning to think of the privilege I have to pretty much have whatever food I want...and yet I'm usually not very thankful for it at all. It just feels like my right. I'm entitled to it.
- I had to tell my girls they couldn't go inside and get a snack today. For some moms, that might sound terrible, unacceptable. And it was really hard. I felt concerned that they'd have bad feelings about this fun family adventure if I said no. But I'm really glad I did, because it helped me to wonder what it's like for moms all over the world who are living in extreme poverty to not be able to give their children everything they want.
- The last thing that noticeably struck me was when I was packing up the clothes that we'd have available out there. We wanted to be realistic to what people actually experience, so we have a set of regular everyday clothes and a set of nicer or dress-up clothes. We'll wash whatever we need to outside. But as I selected and packed up that small amount of clothing, I started thinking about how much choice and even excess I have. I don't have one necklace that I wear with every outfit. I have fifteen. I don't just have several pairs of shoes. I have multiple. Now, I'm not saying that it would be more righteous to live like the poor. I'm not saying we shouldn't have things. But I AM thinking that the culture we live in has confused me...when I think that I HAVE to buy this new style of clothing. Or that I NEED another necklace because I don't have one that matches perfectly. Honestly, I never thought I'd have these thoughts because whenever someone talks about Americans having too many clothes, it hasn't really touched me. I think I need the amount of clothes that I have. But now I'm beginning to wonder what is necessary and what is just way too much....especially when there's so much need in the world.
Anyway. That's all this garage-dweller has to say tonight. Wish us luck in the 'family bed' tonight...
This is Sarah, for the Howard Family, signing off...from the garage.